Saturday, December 30, 2006

[1980] LOULOU: This was strong stuff and not exactly enjoyable stuff, and as a tale of sexual obsession it's no Bad Timing. Pialat's Loulou is a lazy, womanizing ne'er-do-well (Gerard Depardieu, apparently the only actor in France capable of the young leading man role in the year 1980) who unaccountable becomes the object of the very middle class Nelly's (Isabelle Huppert right before she shipped off for Heaven's Gate) affections. Nelly, in turn, is loved by Andre (Guy Marchand), but the picture leaves him behind fairly quickly--it's Huppert and Depardieu's film. And they each are throwing each other into the emotional minefields, and you can't always tell who's being manipulative, or hateful--Pialat is careful to not give either one of them anything like a moral upper hand. It's practically a documentary in terms of the way Pialat never takes either Nelly or Loulou's sides for very long. It's also documentary-like in the sense that it's an observation of how a process unfolds (in this case, the process of two people inexplicably bonding together) than a dramatic narrative. We stick with these two characters until the point that they can't do anything else to each other, and then the film ends. I can't say it was the most pleasant thing in the world to watch, but it really did do a good job in making Nelly and Loulou (not so much Andre) into real, living people. It's a small, deeply realized character study of two not possibly mismatched people and you may appreciate it without loving it, as I did.

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